CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - Three-and-a-half weeks after a nuclear expansion project was suddenly and quickly abandoned, Bob Kim is still bracing for impact.
"The whole Westinghouse bankruptcy just took everyone by surprise as did the shutdown," Kim said. "I'll tell you, in my life, I've never seen a plant shut down just – like that."
The thousands of layoffs are especially concerning to Kim, a real estate investor in the Midlands.
"Well, this is actually a flip. It's a rehab and meant to be sold to a retail buyer," he said. "The V.C. Summer employees were laid off. Obviously, they have no jobs. The banks, when they do their final employment verifications to approve somebody for a mortgage loan, obviously the V.C. Summer employees who were laid off are going to fail that test, so that cuts into the potential buying pool of potential people who would buy such a rehabbed house."
Kim was just one of the business owners looking for help and answers who showed up at Chapin Town Hall Thursday morning. The town invited in people like Earl Gregorich, a business consultant with the Columbia Area Small Business Development Center, to help.
"The sky is not falling," Gregorich said. "This is something we can work through. They need assistance with planning for these challenges. Rather than being reactive, we hope they'll be proactive."
It's estimated a third of laid off workers lived in the Chapin area, and, because of that, some of the roughly 300 businesses here have been fearing a bump in the road since day one.
"In a case like this, your competitor of yesterday might be your best ally to help you through this today," Gregorich said.
As the town's businesses pull together, the town will keep lending a helping hand, and the businesses will keep fighting through the pain.
"So I just have to prepare some of our members and say, 'Hey, you might want to consider maybe lowering rents, you know, or doing something to fill your units that have gone vacant,'" Kim said after the meeting.